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Conservative halve Labour’s poll lead

Pull on your boots for the grand tor

Walk of the Month: Malborough, South Devon - Mark Rowe finds rugged scenery and Bronze Age remains along the Devon coast

Dom Joly: Conkers, my secret weapon in the war on spiders

Apparently it's going to be a bumper autumn for spiders. Oh dear. I am a committed arachnophobe, and run screaming like a girl from any room in which the presence of one is even suspected. It's a true phobia –irrational, and totally without cause. And it's only spiders – I don't mind snakes, for example. (Well, I wouldn't say I like snakes but I'd leave a room containing one a tad slower than I would one with a spider in.)

On The Road: No light, no power, no water, but all you need is at 'The Lookout'

"No light!" grins the hotel manager, jangling my keys excitedly. "No light, no light. Not here, not anywhere. Speak to the President, my friend."

163 new species found in Asia

A gecko with spots like a leopard and a fanged frog that preys on birds are among more than 160 new species that have been discovered along the Mekong River but which face the threat of extinction as a result of climate change.

Flights boss warned as he berates staff over queue

It is a scene that has grown all too familiar to weary air travellers over the years: a long winding queue that seems to have ground to a halt while check-in staff linger around apparently powerless to get it moving.

Album: Pere Ubu, 'Long Live Père Ubu!' (Cooking Vinyl)

Pere Ubu albums are always prickly affairs, and this one more than most.

Roar of traffic drowns out frogs' love croaks

Traffic noise could be ruining the sex lives of urban frogs by drowning out the seductive croaks of amorous males, according to an Australian researcher.

Snakes, wasps and spiders...Anna Pavord is enchanted and mystified by the residents of her garden

At last I've seen it, the snake that, over the past two seasons, has left perfect casts of itself in the garden. The skins, dry and crisp, were each about 130cm long, rounded like long sausages, each scale perfectly overlapped on the next. You could see where the eyes fitted in, where the mouth had been. They were light, translucent, fabulously beautiful things. But how could I have been sharing the garden with a creature four feet long and never seen it?

Himalayan wilderness yields 350 new species

Smallest species of deer ever known among new forms of wildlife discovered

Crawling with great ideas: The 'future garden' festival focuses on conservation and insect-friendly innovation

"When I was a kid, growing up in wartime London," says David Bellamy, "there were butterflies everywhere." Clouds of African butterflies have been back in Britain this May, reminding us of what we have lost. Several million Painted Ladies dropped in from Morocco for a summer stint in our green and pleasant gardens, providing a tantalising glimpse of the riches of the past.

Reader review: Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley

My parents were obsessed with guide books. Michelin guides, Egon Ronay, The Good Food Guide - they were annually updated and perused to find the most suitable restaurant wherever we were going (with greatest emphasis usually on the wine). Over the years I often found myself "reviewing" dinners to my husband as we ate, praising and criticising and occasionally, if I was really angry, posting a review on an online forum.

Mark Steel: So this is New Labour's legacy...

They sacrificed all to get elected and now can't get elected to anything

'I have no wish to be represented by a thief'

Hundreds of angry constituents confront Andrew MacKay over his expenses – but he refuses to stand down as their MP
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own